Request for information: Mauriitan biodiversity, ecotourism

Tania van Schalkwyk tvs at
Wed Feb 20 05:05:19 EST 2002

To Whom it may concern:

I am writing to urgently request information regarding ecotourism & the
biodiversity of Mauritius. In particular, regarding the role of islets
sustaining the marine & flora (as well as bird life) ecology of the
There are currently plans to build a high class village of villas and
camping/recreational site on an island named L'isle aux Benitiers on the
southwest coast of Mauritus. The hotel would take up 50 harpents and a
of the island would remain a nature reserve for migrating birds. Though
a reserve can be sustained next to such development is questionable.
the arguments being put forth are that the island is already exploited
by a
coconut plantation, and therefore of not much ecological  conservation
value. This may be true for most of the flora value (even though there
are 2
rare plant species on the islet). However, the islet is situated in one
the last relatively unspoilt areas of coral reefs. It has a rich mollusc
population of clams, mussels, oysters, "tec tec" "ti poulle"and "ash
(please excuse the colloquial terms used as I am not a scientific
officer).This planned development is being put forth as a development
would not disturb the environment. A 1994 report by Bell (Wildlife
Management International Ltd), reccomendation stated "no overnighting"
and a
2001taskforce report(Mauritian ministry of the environment) reccomended
islet  be used for "eco-tourism". I could go on about the many other
important aspects of this islet in the ecosystem of the area; as well as
cultural significance of its location directly opposite a typical
village with a strong Maharathi & Kreol culture. These are just some
ideas & thoughts around the issue. Should you require more information
please ask me.
However, I am not an "expert" . I am a concerned citizen (amongst many
others) and wish to gather as much information as possible around the
biodiversity/sociocultural importance of the islet.  My aim is to inform
myself and others so that the Mauritian nation can make a wise and
choice around the future of this islet, which could set a precedent for
future of other such islets and the ecology & culture of Mauritius and
Indian Ocean.
I therefore request any information possible, as well as useful
contacts, as
soon as possible; as plans for the project seem to be rushing ahead. Is
there an organisation/individual who can come and conduct a study? If
what are the procedures?
I thank you for taking the time to read this and help me. I apologise if
approach is unorthodox and informal, but as I said I am a concerned
with a time limit!
I look forward to your favourable reply.
Yours Sincerely,
Tania (Haberland) van Schalkwyk
(a concerned citizen)

Below please find a copy of a letter I have sent regarding the issue
mentioned above. Your input (if appropriate) would be much valued.
Dear Concerned citizen/expert/activist:

I am a citizen concerned about the plans to develop l'ile aux Benitiers,
the southwest coast of Mauritius. In the past 2 weeks, I have been
around, emailing and meeting with people: government departments,
ecologists, scientists, journalists, fishermen & other concerned
to :
1.try and see what impact this project would have on the ecosystem the
is such a crucial part of.
2. get a general idea of what people think & feel about plans around
aux benitier.
3. become involved and help in any actions being taken to stop an
irresponsible project taking place on the islet.

Based on my research,

* I get the idea that most people (not all) -expert & non;  are opposed
the current plans to build an haute de gamme villas complex (100 rooms),
well as a camping and loisir site with a small bird nature reserve. This
because the general opinion is that such a development would disturb the
environment: marine and terrestrial of the area with serious

* I sense that the government has many conflicting
regarding l'ile aux Benitiers and other islets. That this could lead to
irresponsible development going ahead seems very possible.

Therefore, I am writing to you:

1. To offer my help and any information I have to any organisation or
person(s) taking action regarding l'ile aux Benitiers. Please let me
asap. I am also willing to meet with interested parties.

2. To seek your help with the following project:

I am compiling a list of opinions & statements regarding:
- the "haut de gamme" villas complex/camping site/small reserve proposal
L'ile aux Benitiers;
-as well as about any development plans for the islet.
- and in general about the ecosystem of the southwest of Mauritius:
biodiversity, sociocultural & environmental impact.

These statements are to be used in a petition (soon to be launched) and
press release/article.

I request as many opinions/statements as possible.
Please send them to me ASAP, preferably by tomorrow noon (Thursday the
of February 2002). Late submissions are welcome, but may not be able to

With your statement, please provide the following details:
1. whether you wish to remain anonymous or be referenced
2. your job title (optional)
3. In what capacity you are making this statement: expert or non-expert;
expert please give details.
4. Include any references, policies, reports, audits you know of to
your statement
5. Your consent (or non-consent) for me to use them in either the
and/or the press release/article.
6. Contact details:(optional) which will remain confidential.

Please forward this letter to anyone you know of who may contribute.

I thank you for your time and help. I look forward to your favourable
and of helping you in return.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any queries or comments.

Yours Sincerely,

Tania (Haberland) van Schalkwyk
A concerned citizen
Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
-Cree Indian prophecy.
For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
digests, please visit, click on Popular on the
menu bar, then click on Coral-List Listserver.

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list